How To Write a Linkedin Post That a Million People Will Read

Yoni Raveh
Head of Thought Leadership
AppsFlyer
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How To Write a Linkedin Post That a Million People Will Read
What follows is an article based on his appearance on the Techie Talkie podcast.

Thought Leadership is not Promotion

If you look at your LinkedIn feed, the vast majority of posts that come from someone that works in a company are marketing posts. They are promotional posts, they're trying to promote something.

'Look at us, how good we are'. The expectation is that people will scroll down their feed, look at these posts of 'Wow, how good are we' and say, 'Wow, you really are incredible'.

It doesn't work like that.

People stay away from commercials, like we change the channel or play Fast Forward on the television, that's what people do in their feed.

If something smells like a promotion, the chances for someone to respond to it are much slimmer.

Thought Leadership says something completely different. It says, 'I give value to anyone who reads', period.

I'm not interested in promoting the company, and perhaps I'll go back to that later on, but promoting the company doesn't interest me.

I want to give something valuable, while the company that I work in and the product I would like to promote, they're both way back in the background.

The First Rule of Thought Leadership...

When I try to explain what I'm doing in AppsFlyer, for example when I'm giving lectures, I use a slide which is the best slide in my presentation but it's not my invention.

It's a slide with a picture from the 'Fight Club' film where you see Brad Pitt standing there and says

"First rule of fight club, you do not talk about Fight Club".

When you're producing Thought Leadership, you can't promote your company. These two things can't live with each other, it's either this or that, a decision must be made.

The company you work for can always be in the background, like some sort of a companion who's walking far behind you.

It can't be the main topic, the topic has to be something that whoever is reading it, will produce some kind of value from it.

The idea is not that they'll say 'Wow, what an amazing company', but more like, 'Wow, Asaph wrote something interesting, therefore he's interesting, therefore perhaps the company he's working for and that this post came from, is also interesting and professional'.

That's the idea, it's a very long funnel.

Thought leadership won't produce immediate leads, it doesn't work like that.

Thought Leadership > Leadgen

What's the value of some eBook you publish? What's the conversion percentage for some gated eBook where you have the form, and then you have their email address and you can send them your newsletter. What's the conversion rate of this crazy leadgen?

I can recommend you to follow a guy called Chris Walker Refine Labs on LinkedIn.

In my opinion he's one of the best thought leaders, because he's really delivering the truth to people's faces. He's constantly slaughtering this sacred cow called ‘Leadgen’.

What is Leadgen? How valuable is Leadgen?

What does all this Gated Content give you?

This whole thing around email nurture, how do you produce a customer and then send him more and more content, and what is the benefit in that?

Bottom line, what he's claiming, of course with a little bit of extremism, is that it doesn't pay off.

It doesn't pay off, but still this vicious cycle keeps turning because the CMO's and CEO's don't know anything else.

And since the other option of creating real value, and making the customers come to you eventually because you interest them, can't be measured, or it's extremely difficult to measure.

The irony is that you can manufacture the worst piece-of-crap-eBook in the world, and people won't know that before they'll leave you their email address. So you have their email, now they read the specs and got deeply disappointed, but anyway your measurements show you have a lot of leads.

So, on paper, it shows you did great. In my eyes, the sadder aspect is that you put so much work into this content and design, and you got nothing for it.

90% percent of people don't even see all that, because they never left their contact details.

And even those who left their details won't read the whole eBook, most of them don't read the whole eBook. So isn't it better to just leave the content ungated and that's it?

How to Balance Leadgen and Thought Leadership

The answer is we should find some kind of balance. The balance today between Digital Leadgen actions and Thought Leadership actions is leaning very favourably towards Leadgen. In my opinion it is supposed to be... If not inclined towards Thought Leadership, so at least in the middle between them. Now, you interviewed Udi Ledergor from Gong here.

Udi Ledergor also does Leadgen, they do a lot of Leadgen, commercials and such. But, they understand the difference between Leadgen and Demandgen.

What Udi Ledergor is doing, and I think he spoke about it here, is that he chooses a few specific people which are suitable for this role, and together they build themselves as the Thought Leaders of the company.

There are three or four or five or ten, I'm not exactly sure how many of them are there. I am following four of them.

They're doing amazing work, they produce quality content, personal content.

Even though it probably has a guiding hand behind it, and people that work and edit the content, you can still see it's personal content, which is one of the secrets for Thought Leadership.

At the end of the day, it's a social network, you need to be personal.You can't let the PR team work on it so each word will be placed perfectly.

It doesn't work like that, people see through it in a heartbeat. People understand what's Leadgen and what's Thought Leadership.

People understand when it's real value vs. when it's carelessly put together and handed over.

How to Optimize Your Thought Leadership for LinkedIn

I can tell you what isn't the ideal length for a post. The maximum limit in LinkedIn is 1,300 characters. I try hard to keep it under a 1,000 and usually around 600-700, but if you're a pro like Dave Gerhardt, you can do it in a 50 character sentence, we're not all like him.

That's exactly what's important to understand. You're not writing a mass about what you're doing, you can have only one message per post. If you're planning on putting in many messages, you better forget about it.

Put in the post one message, wait two days and then post another with your next message.

It's better to post frequent short posts with one sharp message in each one, rather than put in 1,200 characters, spill out everything you have to say and then just wait till something happens.

A small tip regarding LinkedIn, the first two hours decide the future of the post.

If it didn't succeed in the first two hours, you better forget about it, nothing will help you now. I mean, perhaps it'll get a lot of likes, but it won't get serious distribution, it won't get a great deal of views, and that's what I care for. If it didn't succeed in the first two hours, it's a lost case.

Absolutely. If the post worked well in the first two hours, and LinkedIn's algorithm decided that there's something special about it, this post will be distributed in an exponential manner. This kind of post can live up to 30 days.

Case Study for LinkedIn Thought Leadership Success

A month ago I wrote something for Deborah, our Head of Localization. Now, who's talking about localization? It's a super important topic in marketing, who's talking about it? Who's talking about how important it is? I don't know anyone.

We wrote a post together about why translation is not localization, very simple, a clear message that many people understand, but nobody said it before.

Nobody expressed it, nobody explained it properly.

Deborah has maybe 3,000 followers on LinkedIn, a medium amount, even less than medium. It had 60,000 views, hundreds of thousands of impressions...

By the way it was a post without a photo, without anything.

Of course the title is extremely important, it was just 'Why translation is not localization' and then the explanation.

It wasn't a specially long post, I thought it's a good one but I never imagined it would get to where it got. Because I reiterate, I don't have any specific examples.

But you can take into account that about 50% of the posts I write don't succeed. That's the success rate at best, even though I didn't check the stats, most of them don't succeed.

But when you're looking at it from the long-term perspective, it doesn't matter. You're building yourself an audience, I'm building an audience for each person I'm writing for, I'm building him this number of people that'll respond, if not today then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then the next day.

Never Share Your Company’s Own Thought Leadership Posts (and other pro tips)

Never share, not your company's post and not anyone's post. Don't share.

If you think about it from a philosophical point of view... I can't believe I'm talking about LinkedIn in a philosophical way, but if you think about it, when you're sharing a post, you're taking someone else's idea and give it to people. You're saying, 'Here, take someone else's idea'. That's the opposite of Thought Leadership, now regardless of that...

LinkedIn's algorithm despises sharing, it doesn't like it. So don't press share.

That’s why if you share your company's post and many of your colleagues like it, it won't really take off. Of course, if people and employees of other companies will like the post, it'll take off.

Also outside links, let's say you want to give a link to some company's page...Generally speaking, this act is also a contradiction to Thought Leadership. If you want to give out Thought Leadership, you don't refer people to your company's webpage. But, if you still want to go with it, and the post isn't this promotion of 'Come and signup for something', take down the preview image.

The moment there's a preview image, LinkedIn understands it's referring to an outer page and takes down the post's ranking, leading to a lower distribution. That's unequivocal.

Just for those who don’t know, a preview image is automatically generated when you're posting an outer link.

You can take it off, if you want you can put a different image instead of it. Or you can say, 'Link in the first comment', also works. Many people use both ways, I'm not sure as to which way is better, but again, it's a game.

If you do upload a link with a preview image, you'll get more clicks but less exposure, you decide for yourself. You know, the CTR will be higher but it'll have less views, you decide what you want.

If I'm in Thought Leadership, I care less for the link itself but more for what's written before the link.

Another tip. Headline, title, even a certain line in the text, one of them has to pop up and catch people's attention. Something that will make the reader keep reading.

I learnt it by myself but Dave Gerhardt said it in a very clear way. He said the purpose of your first line is to make the reader read the second line, and so on. The title has to be interesting, something that will make people wonder why you said that.

That means no big blocks of texts, it doesn't work like that, people see this wall of words and decide it doesn't interest them.

They're tired, we're tired, we see this sea of words and we're moving on.

Three or maximum four lines for each paragraph, and that's it, move on down to the next one.

Image, no stock photos, don't use stock photos, it doesn't work, I tried it hundreds of times, it just doesn't work for me, but perhaps there's some kind of trick I'm not familiar with.

If you want an image that will work, think of Facebook in this regard, photos of real people and real situations with people's faces looking or not looking at the camera. But, people inside a photo that isn't taken from Getty.

Don’t Take My Word For It...

Look, it's really easy for me to look at it and say, 'Listen, that's the old world and it doesn't work like that anymore'.

First of all, it does still work, it just doesn't work as well, and down the road it won't be enough for a company to sustain itself.

Second thing is, there are still companies that believe in doing things that way, I'm just doing my part. But really, one post with one message, make it short but deliver the message in a clear way. Do not tag the company you're working in, don't promote the company you're working in, promotion isn't it, value is.

Think about what would you like to read, think about what would your potential audience like to understand. It doesn't matter if you're selling attribution service or data warehouse. Those are my general tips.

So How Do You Define Thought Leadership Success?

First of all, likes and comments are means to an end.

The more likes you get, and more importantly, the more comments you get, increase the distribution of your post. LinkedIn's algorithm says, 'Okay people are responding, there's a conversation here, it seems like there's something interesting going on here', LinkedIn loves conversations.

There’s liking, celebrating, Or the 'Insightful' lightbulb, I don't know which of these is better.

Comments are of course what creates the most views, and that's what I measure, how many people saw this post, this message?

I have all kinds of measurements, I mean, the bigger your audience is, the harder it is to get a high multiplier.

Typically, if you have 2,000 followers or friends on LinkedIn, and you got twice as many views, that's already a decent post. If you have 20,000 followers, it's much harder to get twice as many views, so it changes.

Think about multiplying your follower count as something worth striving for. If you haven't even reached the number of your followers, it's not a good post, that's for sure.

What's a highly successful post? Multipliers of four and five and six and seven, but there are further measurements.

For example, as far as some of the company's seniors are concerned, they measure it by how many CV's they're getting afterwards in private messages, that's just another example for what success might be.

It's a measure for success but it's not the success itself.

With that said, in such a large company like AppsFlyer, that's recruiting all day long, from morning till evening, to recruit quality personnel is some kind of a goal in every layer of Thought Leadership.

We're constantly looking for talent, and it's difficult competing with Facebook, Google and Amazon. So that's also an objective, how many CV's we get, how many connection requests. I keep pushing the people I write for to enlarge their network.

What Goes Into Successful Thought Leadership

Those who don't have time need a person like me in their company.

It sounds a bit arrogant, but also if you don't have the writing skill, you need someone to help you formulate a message.

So whether you have the time or not, it doesn't matter if you don't know how to write.

In my eyes, writing takes ideally 30-60 minutes a day, which is a huge amount of time for someone in a senior position that's really busy.

Even for someone who isn't a senior, it's a lot of time. If you put into it only 30 minutes a day, or even 30 minutes every two days, you can still have something come out of it if you have some help.

I don't expect the employees of AppsFlyer to write a post each day, it's impossible, very few people can do that.

Right now, I'm working at a frequency of about one a week, and to be honest, I think it's not good enough but that's my capacity and the people's capacity.

For that purpose, I'm trying to produce shorter posts with sharper messages, so it won't be as much work.

Two posts a week is amazing for someone who wants to be a Thought Leader. It also makes it a tiny bit less crucial to measure and plan each post, you're trying to see a curve that shows growth in likes, views and network over time.

For that let's say you need two to three hours a week, which is something you can live with.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s nothing stopping you from getting started.

References:

Bonus:

Budweiser commercial

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Yonni Raveh is the Head of Community at AppsFlyer and a master in Injecting Thought Leadership into Marketing. He is responsible for writing the Thought Leadership content for executives, directors, and managers at AppsFlyer.

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Techie Talkie,  the tech marketing podcast is a casual meeting place where the best tech marketers share their most impactful trade secrets and marketing hacks . Its objective is to inspire creativity within the tech marketing space and help marketers rise above the noise. It is hosted by Asaph Shulman, a serial marketer and CMO of Firebolt and our very own Carmel Yoeli.